Saturday, 25 July 2020

My guide to the Green Party leadership, GPEx and House of Lords elections 2020

My guide to the Green Party leadership, GPEx and House of Lords elections 2020

So it has been a very long time since I have made a post on this blog. I'm not likely to return to regular writings here, but I did want to write about this year's elections that are being held internally in the Green Party. In my 10 years of Green Party membership I have never seen a GPEx (Green Party Executive) election where every single post up for election has been contested by multiple candidates. There have been many ups and downs for the party in my 10 years in the party, but it seems to be as though the number of core activists has been growing and we are now at a point where many more members with experience are putting themselves forward for these positions. As well as GPEx elections, we also have the elections for leader and deputy leader, and we have our selection for our prefered choices for the House of Lords and electing members of the Policy Development Committee.

Members will be able to vote from August 3rd to August 31st. Make sure you've joined the party by 31st July in order to get a vote. Join the party here:

I will be giving an endorsement here to every candidate for whom I am enthusiastically giving a preference vote for. For some positions I will know exactly who will be getting every one of my preferences, for other positions I haven't made my mind up just yet. For some candidates I know already that I will not be giving them any preference, but I will not be discussing here why I disapprove of their candidacy.

How am I deciding who I vote for? Well, I view these positions similar to how you could view cabinet positions in government. Whilst we do need people with really relevant skills and experiences, we also need people with the right politics in these positions. GPEx is one of the two most important decision making bodies in the party along with the Regional Council (GPRC). Decisions within GPEx help decide things like choosing our head office staff like the CEO, deciding what our Party Political Broadcasts look like at election time, and for example GPEx was heavily involved in negotiating going into an electoral pact with the Lib-Dems and Plaid Cymru last year. So as well as looking out for experience and skills, I am looking for candidates with the right politics. We need candidates who will stand up for the rights of minorities, including people of colour, LGBTIQA+ people but especially transgender people, disabled people. I would like to see candidates who would have stricter lines and more consultation with members before discussing electoral pacts such as 2019's "Unite to Remain" pact with the Lib-Dems and Plaid Cymru.

On a personal note I will also be interested in candidates who support animal rights and veganism as that is one of the most important policy areas for me personally. I also think representation is hugely important. We need representation from minority groups and oppressed groups to ensure we are inclusive and bringing their viewpoints on board. I also favour representation from geographic areas outside of London and the South East.

Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales

I'll dive straight into the first position and some could argue the most important position, our leader. We have 3 candidates to select from here, and I have been particularly impressed with 2 of them. I have not decided my first preference for this role yet. I will not be giving a 3rd preference to anyone except Re-Open Nominations (RON).

It's worth noting that our leadership rules mandate 3 people be elected to the leadership team. If a 2 person job-share get elected as co-leaders, it will mean we can only have 1 deputy leader (as is the current situation). If we only elect 1 person as leader, this will mean we have to elect 2 people of different genders for deputy leader.

  • Jonathan Bartley & Siรขn Berry - The current outgoing co-leaders. Jonathan Bartley has been a co-leader since 2016 (originally with Caroline Lucas). Sian Berry has been co-leader since 2018. Sian is a London Assembly Member sitting since 2016. She has a long history of roles in the party, being Principle Speaker in 2006, London Mayoral candidate in 2008, 2016 and in 2021, and she has been a councillor in Camden since 2014. Jonathan has been active in Lambeth and in London since joining in 2010. He has been candidate for several roles such as the London Assembly and General Election. In 2018 he was elected as councillor in Lambeth. Both these candidates have a lot of experience and have both played large roles in expanding the party's profile. They're also quite progressive and have openly spoken in favour of trans rights.THE GREEN PARTY LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS 2018: SIAN BERRY & JONATHAN ...
  • Rosi Sexton - Rosi or Rosemary Sexton is a Green Party councillor in Solihull getting elected in 2019. Rosi is quite a new figure in the party, joining in 2015. I've been very impressed with her campaign so far. Her campaign slogan is: "Serious about Inclusivity. Serious about Credibility. Serious about Success". She used to live here in Manchester, having studied at the University of Manchester. What's interesting about her history is, as well as having various degrees in mathematics, she has also had a successful career in Mixed Martial Arts, at one point being a UFC fighter. She has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Ju-Jitsu and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. Born in France but raised in England, she describes her ethnicity as half Malaysian Chinese, half English. If she was elected leader she would be the first ever non-white female leader of any major UK political party. Rosi also seems to be on the progressive side of the party and has openly tweeted in support of trans rights. Check out her campaign website here (make sure to watch her video):
    General Election Candidates 2019 | Green Party
Deputy Leader of the Green Party

Next up is deputy leader. And wow, we have an excellent range of candidates running for this position. I have heard of all but one of these candidates and I would vote for all of them. I personally nominated Nick Humberstone and Amelia Womack but there are other candidates I would have nominated had I found out that they were running before close of nominations. In no order:

  • Amelia Womack - I have endorsed Amelia Womack at every deputy leadership election she has ever stood in, being our deputy leader since 2014. I first networked with her when we were both Young Greens standing in the European Parliament elections in 2014. I've watched her career as she's grown in confidence and skills over the years. She's stood in general elections and in Welsh Assembly elections. Every now and then she posts photos on her social media of the train tickets she has collected in her travels as deputy leader and it's staggering how far she's travelled. She's always been approachable and made herself available whenever she can. A true progressive, on the left of the party and a proud supporter of trans rights. I suspect that she is the strong favourite for deputy leader as she has the highest profile of all of them.
     Amelia Womack - Wikipedia
  • Tom Pashby - I met Tom Pashby a few years ago at a Young Greens convention and then again at Green Party conferences. Tom is a non-binary person who uses they/them pronouns. Tom has had lots of experience in the party, previous being on the Young Greens national executive, GPEx as internal communications coordinator, and has stood in 2 general elections. Tom would be a breath of fresh air. Openly left-wing, openly opposed to electoral pacts, openly supports trans rights. I think it is so important to have trans/gender non-conforming representation and Tom is the only trans or non-binary person standing in the leadership election. Tom is also a vegan, which is important to me and will help sell the party to the vegan and animal rights community, who often don't think we are taking these issues seriously because our leaders aren't usually vegan. Watch their campaign video here:
    Tom Pashby - Home | Facebook
  • Nick Humberstone - Nick is a fairly new member joining in 2017, but he has worked for the party as staff and also has been chair of the Structures and Procedures Committee for the Young Greens for the past 2 years. The main reason I support and nominated Nick is for his support of animal rights. He is a vegan and an advocate for animal rights, emphasising the link between animal agriculture and climate change. To my knowledge Nick is the only candidate I am aware of in any of these elections that has mentioned animals or animal agriculture in their platform for this election. As a vegan and (on and off) animal rights activist myself, I find it so much easier to get other vegans and animal advocates on board when we have vegans as part of our leadership. I've lost count of the amount of times vegans have told me about Caroline Lucas not being vegan and therefore we're not taking animal rights or the link between animal agriculture and climate change seriously. As with most of the candidates I am supporting, Nick is on the left of the party, is a socialist, and he openly supports trans rights. Nick is doing Zoom chats every Saturday I believe from 11am to midday where you can ask him anything you like about his campaign. You can find the link to the Zoom meetings and check out Nick's campaign on his website here:
  • Cleo Lake - Cleo has been a party member since 2015 and just one year later in 2016 she was elected as a councillor in Bristol. From 2018 to 2019 she was the lord mayor for Bristol. In 2019 she was second on the South West England list for the European Parliament elections. As a black woman, a large part of her platform is tackling racism and race-related inequality. Cleo has a background in arts, which is also evident in her activism, something that is quite often forgotten about. If she was elected as deputy leader, she would be the first woman of colour in the leadership team.
    Cleo Lake elected new Lord Mayor of Bristol, former actress and ...
Chair of the Green Party Executive

Quite an important role on GPEx is the chair. To be honest, there is only one of the candidates for chair that I have heard of that I know I can support. I have nominated Ashley Routh & Benjamin Smith, but I have also heard good things about Adrian Spurrell who is mostly unknown to me.

  • Ashley Routh & Benjamin Smith - Ashley Routh and Benjamin Smith are standing for chair as a job-share. Benjamin is the former deputy leader for Wales Green Party and Ashley is a party campaigner from Sheffield. Both are progressive, on the left of the party and in particular they campaign in favour of trans rights. One particular thing I like about their platform is they want to see a reduction of emails sent from the national party, something I support after getting sometimes daily and even multiple emails a day from the national party.
    Interview with Benjamin Smith and Ashley Routh – Co-Chair ...
Campaigns Co-ordinator

There is going to be a common theme here where because of the broad scope of candidates that have come forward, there are quite a few for most positions that I've just not heard of. The Campaigns Co-ordinator coordinates all of our non-electoral campaigning. It is really important to show that we are supporting campaigns out there be that Black Lives Matter, anti-fracking, renationalising railways, bringing in Universal Basic Income, or the many different campaigns out there that are happening that we support with our policies. It is so important that non-electoral campaigning supports and backs up our electoral attempts at bringing in our policies.

  • Hannah Graham - Hannah is most likely to be my number one preference for Campaigns Co-ordinator. She was co-chair for the Young Greens, she has stood for the party for Parliament and she is on the list for the London Assembly. She has done a lot of non-electoral campaigning through her job with World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts. She is progressive, on the left of the party and is supportive of trans rights.
    Election Candidates - London
  • Daniel Laycock - a name that is quite new to me, but someone who has impressed me. His program for the post includes supporting Universal Basic Income, LGBTQIA+ rights including trans rights, a Green New Deal, green economic and transport infrastructure, electoral reform and clean energy.
    Daniel Laycock - Home | Facebook
Elections Co-ordinator

I believe the Elections Co-ordinator role to be one of the most important ones. We need to get our election strategy right. There have been many times that national election strategy has made problems for local parties. While conferences can instruct our national election team to follow certain rules, in general ordinary members don't get much of a say in deciding our national strategy. I'm not even that opposed to this, so long as we have the right people in place making these decisions. For example, I do not think it would be a good idea for the membership to vote on our national target constituencies. Thankfully, we have some very good and experienced candidates who fully support and understand target to win (TTW), our strategy for getting councillors elected. I nominated as job share for the role both Kai Taylor & Claire Stephenson as well as Laurie Needham & Joe Levy, but they are not the only candidates I support.

  • Kai Taylor & Claire Stephenson - I'll be honest here, I'm not that familiar with Claire but I am a big fan of Kai. Kai is a councillor in Knowsley where he has grown that local party from being one of those local parties that struggles to get a full slate of paper candidates to one where they are in control of two town councils and have multiple borough councillors and being the second largest party by both vote share and councillors in the council. When elected as borough councillor in 2017 Kai was the youngest Green Party councillor in the country. Being from a borough that typically has poor results for the Green Party, but is suited for TTW campaigns I feel Kai would be well placed to direct the party's election strategy. Far too long we have focussed on urban lower middle class areas with an independant and hippie vibe. It may have worked for us in Brighton Pavillion during the height of Labour unpopularity, but selecting working class areas that have been abandoned by Labour or even some middle class seats taken for granted by the Tories has to be given consideration when choosing where to put our limited resources. I'm sure Kai's experience will be very valuable here. Self-declared as a socialist, Kai is on the left of the party and fully supportive of trans rights.
    Green Party candidate for St Helens South & Whiston named | St ...
  • Laurie Needham & Joe Levy - Joe and Laurie both have a lot of elections experience within the Green Party. Joe has stood for several years as a local council candidate in Exeter, helping the local party to gain it's first councillor. He stood twice as general election candidate in Exeter, increasing the vote in 2019 to a record Green vote for the constituency of 8.6%. He is on the progressive side of the party and fully supportive of trans rights. Laurie is a councillor in Charnwood, having taken the seat from the Conservatives after not having put forward a candidate at the previous election 4 years earlier. Laurie also stood as a general election candidate in Charnwood. Laurie is also a progressive candidate and supportive of trans rights. Both Laurie and Joe have attended the party's Campaign School, the program the party has for training people up on how to run Target To Win campaigns. Together, they have lots of experience working in wildly different seats, from urban Labour seats to rural Tory seats.
    Laurie Needham for Charnwood in the UK Parliament elections | Who ...General Election Candidates 2019 | Green Party
  • Louis Williams - I've known Louis for a few years through Young Greens events and conferences. I first became aware of Louis's election work through last year's target constituency work in Bristol West, where we came second and achieved just below 25% of the vote. I personally am not convinced that Bristol West is the right target seat for us, for various reasons, so that is an enormous achievement. Louis has an impressive CV with running the West of England mayoral campaign, passing Campaign School and being elections coordinator for the South West regional for 2 years achieving more gains than ever before. There are very few unpaid volunteers I know in the party who work harder on elections than Louis, often leaving home first thing in the morning to catch a train to support a campaign in another part of the region early on a Saturday morning. As with most of the people I've supporting in these elections, Louis is on the left of the party and supportive of trans rights.
External Communication Co-ordinator

For External Co-ordinator I genuinely have't made my mind up as of writing this. Both candidates have a lot of experience and I have a huge amount of respect for them both. Molly Scott Cato is standing for the House of Lords list which does influence my vote somewhat, but I'm still mostly undecided.

International Co-ordinator

The International Co-ordinator co-ordinate our work with both other Green Parties around the world, and with the wider global green movement. We have 4 separate candidates for this role but I have to confess I've only heard of one of them, Alice Hubbard & Sam Murray who I nominated. Please do your research for this role as there are some Greens of Colour who have put their name forward, who may be suitable for the role that I'm not familiar with. It's worth noting that different International Co-ordinator have had a different focusses. Some have tried to strengthen links with other members of the European Green Party. Some have looked to movements in the Americas or Africa, for example.
  • Alice Hubbard & Sam Murray - Alice is the current International Co-ordinator and Sam has sat on the International Committee for the last 4 years and sits on the Executive Committee for the Federation of Young European Greens. They both have lots of experience relevant for the role. They are endorsed by former Green Party MEP Jean Lambert. Again, they are both progressive and support trans rights.
    Alice Hubbard (@aliceahubbard) | TwitterPro-EU 'nerds' gather on Dutch island for election plan
Management Co-ordinator

I’m not entirely sure of the exact job description for the role of Management Co-ordinator, but I assume it involves co-ordinating the management of the party. So this would involve working with the CEO and other staff members and maybe some working with GPRC. I also imagine this would involve being active in major national infrastructure decisions for example if the party was to move it’s headquarters. For this role I am endorsing both candidates.

  • Richard Bearman - When I first joined the Green Party back in 2010, we had fewer than 100 councillors (currently at about 382).  I was always amazed if I ever got to meet one of those councillors. At the time, the second largest group of Green councillors in the country was in Norwich. Imagine my excitement when I got to meet Richard when he came to Manchester to attend a GPRC meeting which I attended as an observer. I warmed to him immediately. I am incredibly happy he was one of the first Green councillors I got to meet. He has an enormous wealth of experience in the party, co-ordinating Norwich Green Party through 4 of it’s most productive years, co-ordinated Eastern regional party, been a county councillor for 8 years, GPRC rep for 4 years and is currently a target-to-win co-ordinator in Norwich. Plenty of transferable skills useful for the role of Management Co-ordinator.
    Interview: Richard Bearman - Concrete
  • Matthew Browne & Florence Pollock - Florence and Matt both have only been in the part for 4 years each, but they have done a lot in that time. Florence has been chair of the Young Greens Senate and also London Young Greens as well as being deputy chair of the Disciplinary Committee. She also has important skills from her day job in HR. Matt was a staff member for the party for 2 years as the party’s policy and governance manager which effectively acted as secretary for GPEx as part of that role. They are both on the left of the party, want to bring in more diversity and fully supportive of trans rights. You can view their campaign website here:
    People - Greenwich and Bexley Green PartyHousing, transport and education: Florence Pollock, candidate for ...
Policy Development Co-ordinator

Policy Development Co-ordinator is an important role that involves working with the policy committee to both identify ways to improve the policy making processes, but also to help identify where policy is lacking or needs major changes. This also involves working with the various policy groups on big changes to specific policy chapters or just to give advice. It is not for the policy development co-ordinator to set the policy agenda or to make the policy changes they wish to see. For this role I’ve heard of half of the candidates, and I am happy to be voting for them.

  • Vix Lowthion - Vix rose to prominence in the party when standing for the Isle of Wight constituency in 2015, she polled an impressive 13.4% and came in third (previously achieving 1.3% and coming in 7th place), above both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. In 2017 she fought for Isle of Wight to become a target constituency and her vote here rose to 17.3% in what was for the party a general election where huge amounts of our 2015 support went to Corbyn’s Labour. To achieve roughly 4% rise was very impressive indeed. She has been national spokesperson for Education, promoting our education policies nationally. When it comes to policy preferences, I would say she generally promotes progressive policies. She does support out policies on trans rights.
    Isle of Wight Green candidate launches the Green Guarantee ...
  • Liam McClelland - Liam is a former co-chair of Young Greens. He has specifically done a lot of work on our drugs policy. If you read his statement on the members website he has a lot of interesting ideas for what he would do for the role and how to change various aspects of the policy work, including a skills audit of the policy development committee and improving learning platforms by utilising access the party has at the YouTube Space in London (a studio run by YouTube that YouTubers above a certain subscriber count or view count can have I think free access to make high quality videos) and also using YouTube Space to run PolicyFest online if needed. Liam is on the left of the party, very into inclusivity and supports LGBTIQA+ rights.
    Liam McClelland (@Green_LEMcC) | Twitter
Publications Co-ordinator

The Publications Co-ordinator overseas a range of publications and media that the party puts out. Now pretty much an internal online only publication, Green World magazine is the main publication that the party produces for general consumption for members. As well as working with the team that produces Green World, the Publications Co-ordinator helps with website publications, publications on the members’ website and the branding of the party. The role involves working with External Coms, Internal Coms, Campaigns Co-ordinators and the party’s media teams.There is only one candidate for this role which I know of and am supporting.

  • Jack Lenox - I know of Jack through his work in Cumbria, standing twice as a candidate for Parliament in Copeland. Last year he was co-opted onto GPEx to serve 6 months as Internal Communications Co-ordinator. He has a lot of experience working with digital systems such as WordPress which he helped to set up for the Green Party. Jack has a lot of plans, if elected, for making more publication accessible, such as putting more TTW tools online and to bring back print editions of Green World.
    Jack Lenox Interview - Web Sustainability, The Last Frontier
Trade Union Liaison Officer

The Trade Union Liaison Officer (TULO) role is one that is of great importance to me. I am a union rep for USDAW. Every union I have ever been a member of has hammered on to me about supporting the Labour Party. Unions are an essential part of the wider green movement. For long term success in achieving our green aims, we need the unions on board, and we need to support what they are doing as well. This involves lots of networking, building up our presence in unions. Supporting strikes and working with local trades councils. So having a good TULO officer is vital. I nominated Matthew Hull and Paul Valentine for the role as a job share, and I also nominated Kefense Dennis.

  • Matthew Hull & Paul Valentine - Paul has been the Trade Union Liaison Officer on GPex for the last 2 years and I would be happy to re-elect him. He stands for both Green values and the values of the trade union movement. Matthew who I do not know as well, has been treasurer of the Young Greens and co-chair of London Young Greens. They are both active in their respective unions with Paul being Young Members Councillor for Equity, chair of his PCS branch and a member of USDAW, and Matthew being a rep for Unite. They plan to create a database of union membership and activity within the party, encourage union membership within the party and try to train people on union activity as well as working to bring the Green Party closer to unions. These candidates are on the left of the party and supportive of trans rights.
    Paul Valentine, Actor, Greater LondonMatthew Hull ๐ŸŒ๐ŸŒฑ๐Ÿ‰ (@mj_hull) | Twitter
  • Kefenste Dennis - Kefenste is a new name to me but his activity in the party includes being a regional officer for Greens of Colour, standing for Parliament twice as well as for the European Parliament. He is also the membership officer for Birmingham Green Party. He wants the party to branch out beyond the “white middle class hippie” image and he would be well placed to help achieve that. It is important to show diversity but also that we can be the natural home for the working class, which is important when we are talking about the largest working-class movement, trade unions. Kefenste signed up to all 8 pledges that LGBTIQA+ Greens have asked all the candidates.
    Queer Question Time planned for Birmingham ahead of General ...
House of Lords

How members of the House of Lords are selected is a complicated process that I do not fully understand. All we need to understand is that sometimes parties get asked to provide a list of who they would like to represent them in the House of Lords and sometimes the Green Party gets asked. Usually it is a very quick process that if we do not reply fairly urgently, we may miss our opportunity. This is the reason why we are selecting a list now. In the past it has caused issues because we haven’t had time to fully conduct an election process for this. Whilst I will be giving my second and third preferences to Molly Scott-Cato and then Andrew Cooper, the only candidate which gets my full endorsement for this role is Amelia Womack.

  • Amelia Womack - For me it has to be Amelia Womack. She is the most progressive of the candidates IMHO. As I’ve said in my endorsement for her as Deputy Leader, I’ve been a big fan of hers since 2014 when I first came across her. An excellent speaker and debater I’m sure she would make an excellent representative for the Green Party in the House of Lords.
    Amelia Womack: I was in an abusive relationship - that's how I ...
Policy Development Committee

As well as electing Leader(s), Deputy Leader(s), 9 other members of GPEx and the list for House of Lords we are also electing members to the Policy Development Committee. The convenor of this group is the Policy Development Co-ordinator on GPEx. There are 5 other members of this committee elected by the membership. 11 people have put their names forward for the committee. Having heard of less than half of the candidates and not able to find their statements on the members’ website I do not think it would fair for me to make recommendations. If the statements get published anywhere I may update this section but for now there’s not a lot to go on.

Members will be able to vote from August 3rd to August 31st. Make sure you've joined the party by 31st July in order to get a vote. Join the party here:

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A Vegan Guide to Manchester Punk Festival

A Vegan Guide to Manchester Punk Festival

This is your guide to where to find the best vegan food during Manchester Punk Festival from the Thursday to the Saturday and some suggestions for hangover food on the Sunday. Some of these places are best checked out Thursday or Friday day time as they aren't really within walking distance of the festival, while others are super close to the festival. There will be a map at the end of this blog post.

Breakfast & daytime eateries away from the festival
These options are best for Thursday or Friday daytime or before the festival starts on Saturday. You can walk most of these, but doing so while the festival is on will mean you'll miss out on another band or two.

1. V Rev Vegan Diner, Northern Quarter
Let's face it, this one is already on your list. Moved to a bigger location since last year's festival, although still in the Northern Quarter now on Edge Street. The menu is also much bigger. It's basically a vegan American-style burger & hotdog diner. Plenty of homemade 'beef' or 'chicken' burgers and hotdogs, loaded fries, milkshakes, alcohol, and even an inhouse bakery baking delicous cakes and doughnuts. It can get busy towards the evening to the point where you could be waiting perhaps 20 minutes for a table so bare that in mind.
Open 11am-11pm (last food orders 9pm) all week.

Travel to the festival: V Rev is approx a 20 minute walk from Sound Control or about 15 minutes via tram (to St Peter's Square) or bus from Piccadilly Gardens (any Magic Bus or the majority of Stagecoach buses - ask for Oxford Road Station).

2. Bundobust, Piccadilly Gardens
Manchester branch opened less than 6 months ago, Bundobust serves Indian street food with plenty of vegan options. Lots of small plates of food, with plenty of combo offers perfect for sharing. Lunch express from 12pm-4pm is 2 combo for £7.
Open 12pm-11pm all week.

Travel to festival: Bundobust is a 15 minute walk to Sound Control or 6-8 minutes via bus from Piccadilly Gardens (any Magic Bus or most Stagecoach buses - ask for Oxford Road Station).

3. Earth Cafe, Northern Quarter
A long standing staple of the Manchester vegan scene, Earth Cafe offers more healthy but still delicious options. lots of salads and bakes and the famous Earth Burger. Great smoothies and homemade cakes as well, including raw cheesecakes. It's situated just below Manchester Buddist Centre on Turner Street.
Open 10am - 4pm Thursday & Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday, closed Sunday.

Travel to the festival: Earth is approx an 18 minute walk from Sound Control or about 13 minutes via bus from Piccadilly Gardens (any Magic Bus or the majority of Stagecoach buses - ask for Oxford Road Station).

4. Nexus Art Cafe, Northern Quarter
I'll be honest here, I would not usually recommend this place for food, but I do visit Nexus occasionally for a drink. It's a really cool art space which is home to the Salford Zine Library. They serve a vegan salad, jacket potatoes and a vegan sandwich.
Nexus are giving MPF wristband holders 15% off! Open 11am-6pm Thursday-Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sunday.

Travel to the festival: Nexus is approx a 16 minute walk to Sound Control or 10 minutes via bus from Piccadilly Gardens (any Magic Bus or most Stagecoach buses - ask for Oxford Road Station).

5. Odd Bar, Northern Quarter
Breakfast recommendation: Odd Bar serves an excellent vegan breakfast on weekdays until 4pm. They also serve a vegan burger, a vegan curry, a vegan fat bread dish and all the usual sides like sweet potato wedges. Between 12pm and 4pm on Thursdays there's 50% off most of their food as well.
Open from 12pm all week.

Travel to the festival: Odd Bar is approx a 20 minute walk from Sound Control or about 15 minutes via tram (to St Peter's Square) or bus from Piccadilly Gardens (any Magic Bus or the majority of Stagecoach buses - ask for Oxford Road Station).

6. Teatime Collective Cafe, Hulme
Teatime Collective is my favourite vegan eatery in all of Manchester. You need to go there on the Thursday or Friday during the day. Or else you'll be missing out big time. Breakfast recommendation: Teatime Collective do all day breakfasts in various varieties including an awesome potato hash and amazing American-style pancakes bacon and maple syrup. Otherwise they do lots of sandwiches, burgers, salads, sides and lots of specials. They also make their own vegan ice creams and cakes! Well worth visiting for just the cakes and ice cream alone. Note: Teatime Collective will be having a stall on the Saturday outside Thirsty Scholar which I will be including later in this blog post.
Open 11am-4pm Thursday-Saturday (last food orders 3:30pm).

Travel to the festival: Teatime Collective is approx a 16 minute walk from Sound Control or about 15 minutes via bus (I recommend getting the 86 to Hulme and then it's a short walk through Hulme Park to St Wilfrids Enterprise Centre where the cafe is located).

Quick cheap takeaway food
These are a few options for if you just want to grab something to eat as quickly as possible so you can get to the festival, or you just want to save some money.

7. Go Falafel, Piccadilly Gardens or Deansgate or Rusholme
Fully vegan falafel wrap and salad bar. Fairly cheap and super quick. Really awesome salad boxes. Very good smoothies and juices as well. There are 3 locations in Manchester, 2 of which are located in the City Centre and another open until 2am in the Curry Mile.
Open 10am-10pm

Travel to the festival:

  • Piccadilly Gardens branch: This is approx a 14 minute walk to Sound Control or 9 minutes via bus from Piccadilly Gardens (any Magic Bus or most Stagecoach buses - ask for Oxford Road Station).
  • Deansgate branch: This is approx a 15 minute walk to Sound Control or 15 minutes on the free Metroshuffle bus number 2 which is every 10 minutes.
  • Rusholme branch: Approx 13 minutes on a bus. Any bus between Piccadilly and Didsbury.
8. Spar, Oxford Road or Princess Street
The Spar branches in the city centre all sell Forest Food pasties, rolls and wraps. Lots of these are vegan, and they're made in Manchester. They're usually found on one of the lower shelves below pies and next to sandwiches. There's several Spar stores dotted around the city centre, but 2 in particular are super close to the festival - the Oxford Road and Princess Street branches. Oxford Road is closer to Sound Control, Zombie Shack, Font, Gorilla and Underdog. Princess Street is closer to Retro Bar. Zoo is about equal distance to both so I'd suggest Princess Street because it's the quieter store with fewer queues.
Open 24 hours (even on Sundays).

Travel to the festival: Walk no more than about 6 minutes, and just 1 minute from Sound Control.

9a. The 8th Day Supermarket, Oxford Road
The 8th Day is a vegetarian worker's coop. The supermarket upstairs is probably the second largest vegetarian and vegan section in any shop in Greater Manchester, if not beyond. You can get all sorts of vegan cheeses and meats and groceries, but they also have a rocking deli with lots of vegan treats such as the Forest Foods pasties, vegan pies, cakes, etc. They also have an extensive range of vegan chocolates, sweets and crisps (Ten Acre Cheese and Onion crisps are to die for).
Open 9am-7pm Thursday 9am-5:30pm Friday and 9:30am-5:30pm Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Travel to the festival: 8th Day is just approx a 5 minute walk away from Sound Control straight down Oxford Road (mind the roadworks).

Breakfasts and daytime eateries near the festival
These are your best options for the Saturday when you want a rest in between bands you're interested in and sit down with something to eat. You can also visit these places Thursday and Friday, with some open on Sunday as well.

9b. The 8th Day Cafe, Oxford Road
So this is the basement beneath the 8th Day supermarket. It's quite similar to Earth Cafe, really decent wholesome foods. Good mix of salads and roasts and curries, etc. They have a rotating menu so it's never the same mains 2 days in a row. Awesome selection of cakes as well. Breakfast recommendation: one of my favourite places to get vegan breakfasts in Manchester. Salt & pepper seared slices of organic tofu, 2 x vegan sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans & granary toast with vegan spread. They also have other options if you want a smaller breakfast. Breakfast is served 9am-11am Thursday & Friday and 10am-12pm on Saturday.
Open 9am-7pm Thursday & Friday 10am-5pm Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Travel to venue: 8th Day is approx a 5 minute walk away from Sound Control straight down Oxford Road (mind the roadworks)

10. Mod's Vegan Cafe @ Thirsty Scholar, Oxford Road
The last couple of years the festival have used Thirsty Scholar as the acoustic stage, but with the festival getting bigger it's now as Underdog. This means Mod's Vegan Cafe at the Thirsty Scholar is going to be much easier to access. It's pretty decent and cheap vegan pub grub. Breakfast recommendation: They do a vegan breakfast here which is pretty good, although I can find zero information of what times they serve it until as they don't post their menus online.
Open 12pm-7pm Thursday 12pm-3pm Friday 12pm-5pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Travel from the festival: Thirsty Scholar is literaly underneath Zombie Shack and opposite Sound Control, under the rail bridge.

11. Teatime Collective stall @ Thirsty Scholar's beer garden, Oxford Road
So on the Saturday Teatime Collective have a stall under the rail bridge in the beer garden for Thirsty Scholar. Expect all the best vegan junk foods served throughout the day.
Open 12pm-10pm (unless they sell out sooner).

Travel from the festival: Thirsty Scholar is literaly underneath Zombie Shack and opposite Sound Control, under the rail bridge.

12. Font Bar
Font bar is where the films are being shown and where you can find stalls and distros as part of the festival. It's just 2 or 3 doors down from Sound Control. The vegetarian food options here can be veganised and hopefully they will be able to do this for you. They serve burgers, wraps, a burritto and breakfasts.
Font Bar is offering 25% off all food for all MPF wristband holders Thursday-Saturday. Open 11am-1am all weekend.

13. Changos Burrito Bar, Oxford Street
While we have a couple of Barburritos and other burrito eateries that are good, Changos is the best in Manchester. I highly recommend a large vegetable burrito with guacamole and BBQ sauce, with an unlimited refill drink for £1.65.
Open 11:45am-9pm Thursday-Saturday. Closed Sundays.

Directions to the festival: Changos is a 4 minute walk down Oxford Street/Road to Sound Control and a 2 minute walk to Gorilla

Sunday hangover food
There's a few places that are doing awesome vegan hangover food on Sunday that are well worth visiting before you go home. Some of these places are als

14. The Vegan Hangover, The Deaf Institute, Oxford Road
OK so this isn't technically Oxford Road but just off it, around the corner from 8th Day. Every Sunday The Deaf Institute do a Vegan Hangover with a large vegan menu. Think along the lines of V Rev type food, and easily as good as V Rev. Smaller but still extensive vegan options available throughout the rest of the week.
Open 3pm-10pm Sunday. 4pm-10pm Thursday-Saturday.

15. Grub's MPF17 Sunday Hangover Session @ Alphabet Brewing Company
Alphabet Brewing Company is this awesome small local brewery which hosts gigs and food fairs in it's brewery. Once a month they do an entirely vegan food fair and it's great. They're putting on a small one on Sunday for MPF. The brewery is approx a 6 minute walk from Piccadilly train station, sort of the opposite side to Star & Garter.
Open 12pm-10pm.


All the maps are numbers according to the 15 recommendations in this blog.

Hope you enjoy my top recommendations for vegan food during MPF!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Why I'm voting RON for Green Party leader. Plus my endorsements for GPEX elections.

So it's that time of the year again, elections for the Green Party executive (known as GPEX). Up for election this year are the positions of Leader or Co-leader, Deputy Leader(s), Chair, Campaigns Coordinator, Elections Coordinator, External Communications Coordinator, Management Coordinator, International Coordinator, Trade Union Liaison Officer, Finance Coordinator & Internal Communications Coordinator. That's a lot of positions to elect, 12. This includes leader(s) and deputy leader(s)! I'm going to give you my recommendations for who I'm voting for for each position. Hopefully you might find this useful.

Leader of Co-Leaders
So, the most public facing of all Green Party positions. This time around, Natalie Bennett has chosen not to re-stand and we have 5 candidates to choose from - Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (for co-leaders), Simon Cross, Clive Lord, David Malone, Martie Warin and David Williams. I am voting for a 6th choice. To Re-Open Nominations (known as RON).

Why am I not giving my first preference to an actual candidate? Two main reasons. Firstly, the favourites to win are Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley. I do not believe it is healthy for the Green Party to rely on Caroline Lucas for our success. Yes she is a great politician and public speaker. However, I don't want the party to be known solely for Caroline Lucas. It's not healthy for the party in the long run to be known only for one member, especially when that member steps down or retires.

Secondly, all the candidates are white, straight, able bodied and from mostly middle class backgrounds. With the exception of Caroline Lucas all the candidates are also cisgender men. This isn't representative of minority or oppressed groups in Britain. I want to see a wider more diverse range of candidates standing. There are no people of colour, no LGBT+ people, no people with disabilities, no young people, etc.

Deputy Leader(s)
So for deputy leader I am voting for, in the following order: Amelia Womack, Shahrar Ali, Kat Boettge, Andrew Cooper, Daniella Radice, Storm Poorun and finally Re-Open Nominations. Unlike for leader, I think we have fantastic candidates for deputy leader. We have people of colour, women, disabled people, working class people and young people standing. My preferences are to re-elect Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali. They have both done a wonderful job of representing the party as a young woman and a BAME, which the party so desperately needs.

I am voting for Claire Phipps for chair, and giving John Coyne my second preference.

Campaigns Coordinator
I am supporting Chris Jarvis and Cadi Cliff for Campaigns Coordinator. I can't say I know much about Cadi, but I've known Chris for years and know he's extremely talented and experienced campaigner, both for the party and for other organisations. I endorsed him last year for Young Greens national coordinator. Very well worth your vote.

Elections Coordinator
Rob Telford is getting my vote for elections coordinator. Rob has been elected as a councillor in Bristol and has real experience of coordinating winning elections. This experience is vital for coordinating elections on a national level.

External Communications Coordinator
Matt Hawkins, Penny Kemp and Jennifer Nadel are standing as a jobshare for this role. Nobody else is standing so these people get my vote.

Management Coordinator
Again, Tom Chance and Liz Reason are the only candidates and standing as a jobshare so they get my vote.

International Coordinator
My choice for International Coordinator again goes to Jessica Northey and Derek Wall. There isn't a world I could imagine where I wouldn't vote for Derek Wall. He's been a member of the party for 30+ years and has always been a really strong advocate for eco-socialism and greater democracy in the party.

Trade Union Liaison Officer
A fairly new role and a really important role. I am giving my preference to Kieron Merrett. Kieron is the current secretary of the Green Party Trade Union Group, involvement in which I feel really important for the Trade Union Liaison Officer.

Finance Coordinator
I'm voting for Emma Carter, the only candidate for Finance Coordinator.

Internal Communications Coordinator
Sam Coates gets my vote for Internal Communications Coordinator. When I first joined the Green Party Sam was coordinator of the Young Greens, and has since gone onto do great things including being elected as a county councillor in Oxford. He's been on GPEx previously as Elections Coordinator as well as running the lead campaign for the Welsh Assembly elections in 2011. Really experienced and I'm confident he'll do a great job.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Top 10 Vegan Friendly Places in Manchester's Northern Quarter

Welcome to my next post about vegan places in Manchester, my top 10 vegan friendly places in the Northern Quarter, my favourite place in Manchester City Centre. After the success of my Top 10 vegan places in Manchester 2015 post recently I thought I'd write my top 10 vegan friendly places in the Northern Quarter. For clarification the boundaries of the Northern Quarter that I will use is from Piccadilly Gardens to Great Ancoats Street and between Shudehill and Piccadilly train station.

As with all of these posts, I have not visited every vegan friendly place in the area and this is just my favourite 10 places that I've visited. There are other vegan friendly places in the Northern Quarter that I haven't visited yet and there are dozens of cafes and restaurants in the Northern Quarter I know next to nothing about. Particular mentions go to Pie & Ale which does a vegan pie, and Oak Street Cafe in Manchester Craft and Design Centre which has a good few vegan options. I've heard good things about these places and I will visit them at some point.

10. Ning, Oldham Street

Ning is a Malaysian restaurant and catering company. Ning has plenty of vegan options, all of which are labelled. If you want a formal evening meal and not go to Dough, this may be suitable for you.


9. Beermoth, Tib Street

Beermoth is a specialist beer shop that has a special partnership with local brewer Marble Beers, a vegan brewery in Manchester. Beermoth has an amazing selection of beers and ales from all over the world from rare, alternative and independent breweries. If you're into beers and ales, this is certainly the place for you. I often buy people birthday/Christmas presents from here.


8. This & That, Soap Street

This & That is known for one thing, rice & 3. Rice and 3 portions of curry for a small amount of money (I forget how much). The curry changes each day of the week. There is a place just around the corner called Hunters that is similar and offers a good range. They also serve meat so if you want to avoid that, go somewhere else.

7. Bonbon Chocolate Boutique, John Street

This gem is the best place in Manchester for vegan hot chocolate, without a shadow of a doubt. They melt vegan chocolate, and add flavours such as orange freshly zested in front of you, vanilla and dark truffle. Not all the hot chocolate flavours are vegan though, although they do label the vegan options. They also have a range of chocolates and truffles, many of which are vegan and would make a great birthday present.


6. Odd Bar, Thomas Street

Odd Bar is part of a chain, that used to have 3 locations Odd, Odder (on Oxford Road) and Oddest (in Chorlton). Unfortunately Odder has recently closed down. The Odd chain is one of my favourite places to get vegan breakfasts, and is my favourite place to get a vegan breakfast in the Northern Quarter. They even call it a Vegantastic breakfast. They offer a few other vegan options, but the breakfast is the main reason to go here. Be aware that they also serve meat for those who want to avoid that.


5. Dough Pizza Kitchen, High Street

Dough is probably the place (other than Lotus in Withington) that I get told about most on social media. I had quite a number of people mention that is wasn't in my top 10 vegan places in Manchester. There's reasons why it wasn't, such as it serving meat, it being not that cheap (although reasonable for restaurant prices) and for the dessert menu being unreliable for keeping good vegan options. That being said, this is probably my favourite place in Manchester to eat vegan pizza (now that Teatime Collective have stopped doing pizza - which they may be starting up again next year). It's also one of the only places in the City Centre that I feel comfortable going out for a good quality fancy formal meal out, such as for a birthday meal. Dough use good quality vegan cheese, and has gluten free pizza dough as well. They also do vegan cheesy garlic bread. Given that lots of pizza places do vegan pizza bases and most are happy to use any vegan cheese you bring in yourself, I wouldn't automatically say that these pizzas are any better than that option (feel free to disagree). What really was the star of this restaurant was their desserts menu, which when it started out used to offer great vegan options, possibly the best in Manchester. They were provided by Lily & Dilly, a Manchester-based cake company. This included my favourite, vegan chocolate peanut butter brownies with vegan ice cream. However, to save money Dough changed their menu and started making their own desserts, and they aren't as great. Recently however they've changed and apparently improved, but I haven't yet tried them. Still not a bad place to eat out.


4. Go Falafel

This is just for the City Centre location of Go Falafel, not the Rusholme branch. Go Falafel just made it into my top 10 vegan places in Manchester. The City Centre location closes at 10pm while the Rusholme location stays open until 2am. Go Falafel is one of my favourite places to go for smoothies and juices. I've also just discovered that it does great salads as well, but what it's really known for is falafel. It does the best falafel wraps in the city centre. Go Falafel is 100% vegan. Brilliant, cheap, fast vegan falafel takeaway food.


3. Soup Kitchen, Spear Street

Soup Kitchen is a bar, a cafe and a music venue all in one. Beware that this place also serves meat, so if that's not your thing best not to go here. Yes, this didn't make my top 10 vegan places in Manchester but is higher than Go Falafel. This is because Go Falafel has a location in Rusholme so overall I'd rank to 2 together higher than just Soup Kitchen on it's own. The fact that this is a bar that has live music on downstairs and often DJs upstairs in the evening means that it can get busy and noisy in the evenings. During the day however, this place is a quiet place to have good food. They tend to serve food until 9 or 10pm so if you want a late meal that's not an expensive restaurant, this is the place for you. They offer jacket potatoes with vegan fillings, various curries, salads, sandwiches, fritters and cakes all with vegan options.


2. Earth Cafe, Turner Street

Earth Cafe made No 7 in my top 10 vegan places in Manchester, and has been a long stable favourite of mine in Manchester. Earth is 100% vegan, except for offering cow's milk in tea or coffee. Earth Cafe offers a range of salads, curries, chillies, pies, soups and burgers. They also offer amazing vegan cake (some of which is raw) and juices & smoothies. Apart from perhaps busy Saturday afternoons, there's more than enough space for you to get a table to sit at. I've been going to this place for longer than I've lived in Manchester and is one of the longest standing vegetarian cafes in Manchester.


1. V Revolution, Oldham Street

Obviously you knew this would be my number one. V Revolution made No 3 in my top 10 vegan places in Manchester, because it is awesome. V Revolution is the place in Manchester for vegan junk food. If you want vegan milkshake ice cream floats, go to V Rev. If you want vegan cheese chicken bacon burgers, go to V Rev. If you want vegan hotdogs, go to V Rev. If you want to buy vegan cheese, go to V Rev. If you want to buy awesome vegan chocolate, go to V Rev. Just go there already. Every single thing here is 100% vegan. They will be moving early next year to another much larger location in the Northern Quarter with a larger menu and I cannot wait! They will even be open until midnight.